Monday, July 27, 2015

Cakewalk Into Town

-Posted by Isaac

Here's a theme song for this blog post. I'll let the master entertain you as you read.

So about a week ago I was going to give you a mouthful of bitterness. A grumbling, whining, complaining rant, cussing the rainy summer and life in general. Up until a week ago we had produced almost zero summer honey.

When you lift a super in July, it's disturbing to look through and see daylight.

(Sorry about the sheen on these photos. I dropped my phone and cracked it to pieces... lucky it still takes photos at all.)

Rain and more rain. I think I heard it's the wettest year in this area since 1874. As Taj says, it put my face in a permanent frown.
The bees couldn't forage. For about forty days! Right at the peak of our summer honey production--Not Good!

And the thing is, the hives were ready to make honey. Big, strong high populations all cooped up in there, waiting to get out and DO something. 

For a while I settled into a routine. Wake up, walk out, look at the sky... and start cussing.

I've been making my way around feeding protein. It just about drove me crazy to see busting populations like this and no honey to show for it.

So anyway, as you know, things turned around last week. It got dry, it got hot.

Thankfully, Jayne beat me to the punch on writing a blog, and you didn't have to hear my true bitterness concerning the weather.
A very well done post I might add, about our wonderful employees (oops, at Whole Foods they're called "Team Members") A post that would have taken a slightly different tone had I done it.
By the way, I'm not friends with any of those slackers.

After a week of hot and dry, normal summer weather, things look a bit different. The bees are back to work.

See the white new comb being built on the edges? A beautiful sight. And a relief. Maybe we're through with rain for a while. Won't have to steal chickens from the rich folks' yard. It's time for a picnic in the country, Mama.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

I get by with a little help from my friends.

-posted by Jayne

Many times, people assume that Honeyrun Farm is made up of two people:  me and Isaac.  But this couldn't be further from the truth.  We could not make this business happen without the help of our workers, who also happen to be our friends.  Isaac and I have never posted a "help wanted" ad.  We prefer to hand-pick people we enjoy being around.  Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration- some of our workers have called us, and others have been recommended by friends, but for the most part, we have found people who share common interests and enjoy the type of work Honeyrun Farm can offer.  Most of our employees are only here a few hours a week.  We like this arrangement so that our workers' schedules can be flexible, we have a lot of folks trained in a variety of jobs, and they can all pitch in for big events like the Lithopolis Honeyfest.

This blog post is dedicated to all those that help keep Honeyrun runnin'...

Libby Brigner:
She was our first employee and came to us as a babysitter over 5 years ago.  I didn't really want to hire a babysitter, but Isaac did it behind my back (she was a student in his science class). After one day of having Libby here to watch the kids while I got things done, I wanted to know "When can you come again?"  Libby now helps us at the Worthington Farmer's Market every other Saturday, and is a student at OSU.
Libby and her boyfriend Henry also play
music at the farmer's markets.

Julia Thompson
Julia was also one of Isaac's star pupils back when he taught Science at Westfall High School.  When we first hired her, she labeled a lot of bottles, cleaned pollen, bottled honey, and did some babysitting.  Julia is now in college, studying to be a pharmacist.  Luckily, she comes back in the summer to help us in the honey house from time to time.  Here she is cutting a fresh batch of soap, preparing it for curing.

Julia Thompson

Lafe Blair

We met Lafe through Isaac's aunt Sarah, and he began by helping us when we were remodeling our kitchen.  It happened to be close to our busy time of year, preparing for the Lithopolis Honeyfest, so we pulled him into the honey house to help us label bottles.  Now, Lafe is our main man when it comes to hard work.  Lafe does it all and never complains one bit.  Honeyrun couldn't do what it does without Lafe.

Lafe Blair

Maggie Hovermale

Maggie first came to us to learn about our business to prepare her for the State FFA competition.  Her enthusiastic personality really shined through, and we hired her to help us at market and assist in the honey house.  She makes many of the Honeyrun Farm lip balms and salves, and loves to share her knowledge of our products with customers at the North Market on Saturdays.  Pictured below, she is modeling the Honeyrun Farm t-shirt- which will be for sale in our online store soon.  Maggie will be a senior at Westfall High School this Fall.

Maggie Hovermale

Petyn Scanlan

Without Petyn, you would not be able to purchase our products at the farmer's market.  Why is that?  She assumes the task of watching our 4 kids for the full 8 hours while we are away at markets on Saturdays, which is arguably the biggest job on the farm.  She also babysits while I make soap each week, and during the winter she helps out with all the honey house tasks- specializing in making salves and lip balms.  Petyn is also entering her senior year of high school at Westfall.

Petyn Scanlan holds up a full frame of honey,
with our son Bridger

Seth Brumfield

Seth just started working for us this summer, and helps Isaac in the bees.  He is very interested in learning more about beekeeping, and lucky for us, doesn't mind getting stung on occasion while assisting with the beekeeping tasks.  He also helps out my sister in law Becky at Dangling Carrot Farm.   (pictured working in the fields below).  Seth is also entering his senior year of high school.

Henry Barnes
Henry Barnes is our delivery man.  He comes each week to pick up our vehicle full of honey and drive it to all our retail locations throughout Columbus.  He also helps out in the honey house from time to time.  Pictured below, he is stringing up our hand-dipped candle maker.

Linda Bixby
If you've ever been to our booth at the Worthington Farmer's Market, you may have run into Linda.  She is our "market nanny," and held Eden every week at Worthington for the past year.  Now that Eden is mobile, she stays at home with our babysitter (much to Linda's dismay).  We certainly were grateful for Linda's love of babies and earnest dedication to taking care of Eden during busy market Saturdays.

Linda, our market nanny
Delinda Tonelotti
Although Delinda no longer works at Honeyrun Farm, I had to include her because she has been such a help to our business over the past 3 1/2 years.  She helped make soap after the birth of our third child Bridger, and became our chief soap-maker for several years before she moved to the hills of Laurelville.  She also helped us at the Worthington Market every Saturday.  She is seen below, hiding out at the back of our booth at the Lithopolis Honeyfest.  We miss you Delinda! 

Delinda Tonelotti smiles in the background

Jeanne Brigner
Jeanne is Libby's mother, and we've pulled her in the honey house to become our chief pollen cleaner.  As a retired teacher, she said she needed a hobby to pass the time.  Pollen cleaning it is!  Thanks Jeanne!

Jeanne Brigner

Jessica Waldegar
Jess is a former Honeyrun Farm customer that we turned into a customer service specialist.  She helps out from time to time at the Worthington Farmer's Market.  I look forward to our chats during market, and Jess has learned how to expertly answer the question- "What's the difference between Spring, Summer, and Fall honey?"  Jessica and I met at market, but we were also both members of Etsy Team Columbus, and have a shared experience with craft shows and a love of all things Etsy.

Left- Me, Right- Jessica Waldegar
Katie Massie
Katie has been a God-send this year.  She's only been helping out for about 2 months this past summer, but without her, I would not be able to spend much of my summer time hanging out with my kids.  Katie is now our Shipping manager - shipping out all our Honeyrun products to our Etsy customers.  I am also in the process of training her to make soap, and she helps out with all the other honey house chores.  We're so glad to have her!

Katie Massey wraps a beautiful batch of
Tangerine Soap.
It takes a village, right?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

New Life and Travels West

-Posted by Isaac

About the time I got the new/old trailer home from Michigan, we got word that new life had arrived in Iowa.

Little Evey Rose, born to my sister Molly and her husband Brian, graced us with her presence in the corn belt. Beautiful. Molly and Brain's second.
This called for a visit and it also made a convenient excuse to go on out to South Dakota and pick up the long awaited extractor.
Early Sunday morning my parents and I were heading west with truck and trailer. Mom stayed in Iowa, and by Tuesday afternoon Dad and I were loading my new, just slightly used toy.

Dennis Potts is a  migratory beekeeper, moving his bees annually from Oregon to South Dakota for the summer honey flow. In the winter, of course, the California almonds. Seems to be the trend with these guys.

Mr. Potts is my pick for "Mr. July," 2016 Commercial Bee Calendar.

"Oh, you flatter me!"

He's upgrading to a newer extractor and we are the lucky beneficiaries.

Ain't she a beaut? My nephew, little Lije thought so.

We made a couple pleasant discoveries in South Dakota. Both were captured in this shot. One, we could legally drive at a natural speed in that wide open country.

And two, the incredible nectar flow they have up there. It may look like it, but those are not raindrops on the windshield. Those drops are nectar! We happened to drive by a big bee yard (at 80 mph) and hit a few bees. Amazing. You don't see that around here. It's just bug splats on glass.

Nectar isn't the only thing flowing up there.
A little Bakkan shale oil heading straight to my big winter furnace:

400 ppm, here we come!

A conversation between Dad and I:
Dad: Well, the earth may be heating up, but human beings have absolutely no bearing on that.

Me: Really? 400 million years of trapped carbon, and poof, released up into the atmosphere in just a hundred years?

Dad: One volcanic eruption puts more stuff up there than humans could do in a million years.

Me: Ya think?

Dad: The earth is really cooling down. We were hotter ten years ago than we are now. It's getting colder not hotter.

Me: Hmmm. I'll have to look that up.

Back in Iowa, I found out where Molly hides her pot of gold.

Iowa farmers need silos to hold their gold.

While still in Iowa, I couldn't help but make another "business trip." The next day I visited the the 3600 hive operation of Curt and Connie Bronnenberg.

No one was around when I first arrived (unannounced), so I got to snoop.
They have an obviously successful package bee business.

Later talking to Curt, I found out they'll shake about a thousand packages a year.

They bring the hives home from the almonds in March and go to work splitting and shaking, providing hundreds of area beekeepers with new beginnings. Connie calls April "package season."

My initial snooping gave me plenty of questions and things to ponder. It was a fun half hour just walking around exploring, thinking about the years and looking over old equipment.
Like most commercial beekeepers, the Bronnenbergs had the usual array of bee junk.

A successful pallet breeding operation?

Hard to throw something away when you just might need it someday.

It was all so informative and engaging. I probably spent two hours, peppering both Curt and Connie with questions. I'm thankful for their patience.
Kicking myself I didn't get a picture of them together. Cute couple, very Iowaish, a personable blend of intelligence, smiles and well wishes for our own bees.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Honey Sweetened Mojito Recipe

-posted by Jayne

Homemade Mojito made with Honeyrun Farm
 honey and homegrown spearmint.

Is your mint patch extremely happy with all the rain?  If so, you're in the right place. Today I share a great recipe for a honey sweetened mojito.

My aggressive spearmint patch - lovin' life this summer!
 I found a recipe online and adapted it to use honey simply by substituting the sugar for honey.  Our spring or summer honey work best because they both have a more light and delicate flavor.

  • 2 oz white rum
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup (made using a one-to-one ratio of summer honey and water)
  • 8 mint leaves
  • 3/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice (approximately one medium-sized lime's worth)
  • 1 ounce club soda
  • Plenty of ice, preferably crushed
Muddle mint leaves with simple syrup for about 30 seconds. Add lime juice, white rum and ice. Stir vigorously. Top with club soda, stir a little more, and serve, garnishing with an unmuddled sprig of mint if you feel fancy.
-adapted from

If you enjoy this drink, I recommend making a larger batch of simple syrup and keeping it in the fridge so you can serve yourself a drink nightly.
You can also make a refreshing non-alcoholic version by omitting the rum, and slightly increasing the proportions of simple syrup and club soda.   I would call it a lime-mint spritzer.  Delicious!